Manuel Correa
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01 All the mass graves moved by Franco’s Regime between 1959 and 1983 to the ossaries of El Valle de los Caídos, near Madrid. 

02 Aereal photograph of Calatayud’s Cemetery in 1946, -it is believed that Mercedes Abril’s father was interred here-. This cemetery was moved to El Valle de los Caídos by Francoists in 1959. 

03 Aereal Photograph of Calatayud’s Cemetery in 1962, after it was moved by Franco

04 Clarés de Ribota Railway Station (now abandoned), Rafael Abril Avo and his family used to live here

05 Archive Photograph of Calatayud’s Market Hall, where Rafael Abril Avo was detained before his excecution

06 Site where Calatayud’s Market Hall used to be located before its demolition. Throught Spain, the architecture of disappearance is itself vanishing. 

Mercedes Abril
Silvia Navarro-Pablo
Nazaret Vázquez

Directed by
Manuel Correa

Produced by
Emil Olsen

Sound edition & mix
Emil Olsen

Juan Soto

Manuel Correa

Film Project
~ Agua que horada la roca

Set in contemporary Spain, Irreconcilable explores
the way in which three generations of women try to come to terms and find closure from the trauma left behing by the civil war.

Mercedes Abril Alonso is the eldest of the three women, all her life she has  fought to find her father’s ultimate whereabouts and give him a dignified burial.   Nobody is left to remember what happened to Rafael Abril Avo on monday the 7th of September of 1936. This day’s evening, he was kidnapped in his rural home by members of the Falange Spanish fascist party. They threatened to kill him in front of his wife and three year old daughter Mercedes if he resisted. When I met Mercedes -now 87- one of the first things told me was - “All my life I’ve longed for my father. Even though they want me to forget about it and pretend nothing happened.” 

In her lifelong effort to find traces that could lead to her father’s whereabouts, Mercedes’ inquiry reached an unexpected turn: according to friends in her rural village, Rafael Abril’s remains were secretly moved by Francisco Franco’s army into the Benedictine Basilica of El Valle de los Caídos, a colossal mausoleum where facsict dictator Francisco Franco himself is buried with roughly 15,000 people he killed. Today, Mercedes wants to exhume her father’s remains from this place so he can be identified and reburied with dignity in a place of her choice.

This quest is how she first met Silvia Navarro-Pablo, a young woman who has formed and directed what might be the most resilient memory organization in Spain: AFPERV (Relatives asociation for the exhumation of Republicans from the Valle de los Caídos in Spanish). Silvia Navarro-Pablo’s great uncle José Antonio Marco de Viedma shares most of his final fate with Rafael Abril Avo; Kinapped in Calatayud, and ultimately interred in El Valle de los Caídos. Silvia Navarro-Pablo’s search was passed onto her by her mother Maria Josefa Pablo, whose family was broken by José Antonio Marco de Viedma’s foced disappearance. In her quest to exhume him, Silvia Navarro-Pablo has had to combat nearly every institution of the Spanish state, the catholic church and the case has even gone as far as European level tribunals. In the course of this, the institutional silence or downright rejection has revictimized her.  As crimes that happened in the past start emerging in media and public discourse, memory becomes the quintessential ground of contention.

The youngest woman in the film is Nazaret Vázquez, a theater director who has devoted herself to study forced disappearance in Colombia and Mexico, and has succesfully brought to fruition her plays in spanish theatres. Upon finding about Mercedes Abril and Silvia Navarro-Pablo, she quickly realized the magnitude and prevalence of disappearance in Spain during the civil war was not really taught to her in school and remained largely outside of public debate. Her family, as many others, do not speak of these matters. She has thus resolved to understand and learn from Silvia Navarro-Pablo and Mercedes Abril. 

Mercedes Abril holding a picture of her father Rafael Abril Avo

Agua que horada la roca is currently being developed into a documentary film with the support of Fritt Ord Foundation and Sornorsk Filmsenter.